Celery, Blue Cheese and Hazelnut Salad

SaladHolidayGluten-FreeBlue Cheese

Festive celery salad, perfect for entertaining! With sliced celery, dates, blue cheese, topped with maple-glazed hazelnuts.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Here’s a festive salad for the holidays, and one that I think would be especially good paired with prime rib or roast beef.

Blue cheese and celery is a classic combination and is especially good with the additions of dates (or dried cranberries) for sweetness and maple-glazed toasted hazelnuts.

Yes, it’s a little fussy, but it’s the holidays! And so worth it.

The recipe comes via my friend Peg’s glamorous friend Katie Sullivan (thank you Katie!).

Celery Salad with Dates, Hazelnuts, Blue Cheese

Celery, Blue Cheese and Hazelnut Salad Recipe

  • Prep time: 1 hour
  • Yield: Serves 4-8

To save time, start by roasting the hazelnuts. While they roast, you can prep all the other ingredients. Celery bunches come in different sizes, so the amounts here are a little inexact. Just make sure you have enough blue cheese so that you get a little with every bite of the celery.


  • 6 ounces good quality blue cheese
  • 3/4 cup hazelnuts
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 3 Tbsp maple Syrup
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Salt
  • 2-3 bunches of celery, tops removed
  • 12-15 pitted dates (can sub with a handful of dried cranberries or cherries)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (or hazelnut oil if you happen to have it)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice (if using Meyer lemons, use 2 Tbsp)
  • Freshly ground black pepper


1 Remove cheese from refrigerator to come to room temperature.

2 Roast hazelnuts: Place hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet in a 300°F oven for 30 minutes.

3 Prep celery and dates: While the nuts are roasting, prepare the other ingredients. Use a vegetable peeler to peel away the tough outer strings of the stalks of celery. Slice the celery stalks on the diagonal into 1/4-inch thick slices.

Slice the dates lengthwise first in half, then slice the halves lengthwise into 3 or four pieces. If the dates are on the large size, you may want to slice them in half widthwise first. You want to end up with pieces that are about an inch long and a 1/4 inch wide.

4 Rub outer skin off hazelnuts: Once the hazelnuts have roasted for half an hour, remove them from the oven, let cool for a few minutes. Then rub the hazelnuts together inside of a clean dish towel to remove as much of the outer dark skin as you can.

Celery Salad Rub Skins off of hazelnuts

5 Glaze hazelnuts: Melt butter in a small skillet. Add a pinch of cayenne and salt. Add the roasted hazelnuts to the pan and toast them on medium low heat for a few minutes, continuously stirring.

Glazing Hazelnuts for Celery Salad

When the hazelnuts are hot, turn off the heat and add maple syrup to the pan. Stir to coat the hazelnuts in the maple syrup.

Let glazed nuts sit in the pan to cool. Later you will scrape them loose with a wooden spoon and serve atop the salad.

6 Prepare the salad dressing: In a small jar, mix together the olive oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Shake to combine.

7 Assemble salad: Layer a shallow platter or dish first with the sliced celery, then dates, then crumble the blue cheese over it and sprinkle with glazed hazelnuts. Right before serving, pour dressing over top.

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Showing 4 of 13 Comments / Reviews

  • Holly

    Looooooove this salad! And I’m not a fan of celery at all. Yes it takes some time but put on some tunes and enjoy the process. Didn’t change a thing.

  • Cathleen

    The maple syrup never really “glazed” the hazelnuts, even though allowed to cool completely. Could I have made a mistake?

  • Garrett

    As someone who has eaten this salad many times now all I can say is that it tastes amazing. Fresh, creamy, with a variety of textures that keeps you intrigued and engaged in what you’re eating.

  • Mallory

    Some apples would be good in there too! What a delicious looking salad.

  • Paula

    Elise, when I was a child we always had a “relish” tray on the Christmas Eve buffet that included fennel stalks. I want to put fennel on my buffet this Christmas and this recipe looks like an excellent way to do it. If I omit the maple syrup and change the cheese, do you think it will work? If so, what cheese would you use with fennel? Thanks for so many well written recipes and Merry Christmas.

    Hi Paula, your guess is as good as mine! Sounds good though. ~Elise

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